A permanent paved and landscaped conversation circle space meant to facilitate discussion among residents is being created in Mid-City.
Called an “Equity Circle,” the new development is slated for the neutral ground on Jeff Davis Parkway between Canal Street and Cleveland Avenue.
It’s a project envisioned and carried out by one of eight groups who participated in the Welcome Table New Orleans, a citywide initiative of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office that is focused on race, reconciliation and community.
Although the coming Equity Circle will be located in Mid-City, it’s the brainchild of the Carrollton neighborhood group, according to Michael Batterman, a Welcome Table member who attended the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization meeting Monday night to describe the project.
“We mostly don’t live in Mid-City, but we love Mid-City,” Batterman said. “We see it as a very diverse neighborhood in the heart of the city, in many ways.”
The circle, which will open to the public during a ribbon-cutting celebration on Dec. 11, is marked by a compass rose, or a circle showing the principal directions. It will also feature impervious cement in the ground and benches placed “close enough so people can sit in circle without having to yell,” Batterman said.
The area around the Equity Circle will be landscaped with crepe myrtles donated and planted by the city’s Department of Park and Parkways, Batterman added.
The ceremony celebrating its creation will feature several performers, including the marching band for Warren Easton Charter High School and members of local Mardi Gras Indian groups.
Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Welcome Table project began in 2014, when residents form across the city began meeting in eight groups across New Orleans. The neighborhoods included Mid-City, as well as Carrollton, Algiers, Central City, New Orleans East and St. Roch.
Other groups came together from the Mother’s Circle and the Business and Civic Leader’s Circle, according to Landrieu’s office, and participated in a facilitated process of relationship building, and tackling the issue of race and creating reconciliation projects
“By meeting in safe, civil, secure, structured and facilitated spaces, Welcome Table Groups work through each phase to build greater understanding of each other and critical issues facing our city,” the mayor’s office explains on the Welcome Table New Orleans website.